Chicago Closing Comments - Friday

25/01/13 -- Soycomplex: Mar 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.41, up 5 3/4 cents; May 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.26, up 2 1/4 cents; Mar 13 Soybean Meal closed at USD416.40, up USD1.70; Mar 13 Soybean Oil closed at 52.10, down 1 point. For the week nearby beans rose 10 3/4 cents, meal USD2.00 and oil 42 points. The USDA reported weekly export sales of almost 1 MMT versus expectations of 700 TMT-1.2 MMT, although it was interesting to see new crop (595 TMT) outstrip old crop. Ever present China took 210 TMT of old crop and 355 TMT of new crop. The remainder of the new crop sales were marked as "unknown". Sales/shipments for 2012/13 are now 90% of the USDA forecasts. In addition to these there were also sales of 126 TMT of optional origin old crop beans to China along with 246 TMT of new crop. The world's largest soybean buyer would appear to be putting a little "insurance" down with these purchases from the US, knowing full well that supply disruptions are pretty inevitable in South America this year. Safras e Mercado estimated this year's Brazilian soybean crop at 84.7 MMT, versus CONAB’s estimate of 82.7 MMT and the USDA's 82.5 MMT forecast. The Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange said 97.4% of Argentine soybeans are now planted versus 96.4% a year ago. The Rosario Grain Exchange said that so far forward selling has been light, with only only 5 MMT of the 2013 crop currently sold versus 10 MMT this time a year ago.

Corn: Mar 13 Corn closed at USD7.20 3/4, down 3 1/2 cents; May 13 Corn closed at USD7.21 1/2, down 2 3/4 cents. Mar 13 corn was 6 3/4 cents lower on the week. Unlike soybeans, US corn sales continue to lag, with the USDA only reporting weekly export sales of just 138,500 MT of old crop and 51,300 MT of new crop. Total commitments are now 55% of the USDA target, versus 63% normally. Domestic demand from the ethanol sector if also waning, judged on the last couple of week's worth of data from the Dept of Energy. POET, one of the biggest US ethanol producers, today announced that it was mothballing a facility in Missouri due to poor margins and difficulties in sourcing corn locally. This is just the latest in a spate of recent ethanol plant closures. The Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange said 94% of the Argentine corn crop is now planted versus 97% a year ago. The Rosario Grain Exchange estimated Argentina’s corn crop at 26.5 MMT versus the USDA's 28.0 MMT forecast. There's continued talk of dryness being a potential problem for shallow rooted corn in Argentina. The latest weather forecast calls for below normal rains in the upcoming week, according to Martell Crop Projections. Indonesia bought 25 TMT of Indian corn for Jan shipment. Vietnam is looking for 50 TMT of optional origin corn for Feb shipment. Malaysia seeks 60 TMT of South American corn for March shipment.

Wheat: Mar 13 CBOT Wheat closed at USD7.76 1/2, up 8 cents; Mar 13 KCBT Wheat closed at USD8.29 1/2, up 8 cents; Mar 13 MGEX Wheat closed at USD8.65, up 9 1/2 cents. That puts Chicago wheat 14 3/4 cents lower on the week, with Kansas wheat down 14 1/4 cents and Minneapolis falling 11 cents. Weekly export sales from the USDA beat expectations of 300-550 TMT at 572,500 MT of old crop (beating the required 430,800 MT needed to hit USDA targets), along with 75,000 MT of new crop which included a 55,000 MT sale to China. Exports of 559 TMT were almost double last week and the 4-week average. Nevertheless net commitments so far this season are only 72% of the USDA target versus 85% normally at this time. The Rosario Grain Exchange pegged this year's Argentine wheat crop at only 9.3 MMT, versus 15.5 MMT a year ago and the USDA's current estimate of 11.0 MMT. Next week should see us get an update from USDA state departments on winter wheat crop conditions. On the weather front "the continued drier trend across the central and southern Plains will maintain low moisture supplies there," said MDA CropCast. "Our latest 16-30 day temperature outlook has trended cooler across the northern Plains and Midwest, and warmer in the Southeast. The cooler trend across the northern and eastern Midwest would increase risks of winterkill there for the wheat, while winterkill risks should be low in the central and southern Plains," they added.